Obsidian Sword, with Aseethe, Megapunch
Otis’ Tailgators — Sunday, March 19 at 8 p.m.
The Obsidian Sword IPA from Third Base promises to be “a great, deliciously hoppy summer beer.” — photo by Paul Miller
Iowa City’s archdruids of doom metal, Obsidian Sword, will celebrate the release of the second batch of its namesake IPA from Third Base Brewery on Sunday, March 19 at Otis’ Tailgators Sports Bar in Cedar Rapids. Long-time defenders of doom and Iowa powerhouse, Aseethe, who just released their new album Hopes of Failure on Chicago label Thrill Jockey, will support the show alongside Cedar Falls’ weedians, Megapunch.
“It’ll be our first time [performing] in Cedar Rapids, and probably the first-ever doom show in Cedar Rapids,” says JD Woodell, who wields the axe and horns of battle in Obsidian Sword. He first conjured up the idea for the band several years ago in Cedar Rapids, his hometown. “Given that doom comes from an industrial town (via Black Sabbath, of course), it feels appropriate to be playing there.”
Craft beer, roleplaying and riffs so slow you have to contemplate whether or not to headbang: all things that carry along a story. Many such tales involve barbarians under oath to their deity, necromancers as pawns of the reptilian overlords. Often these fantastical worlds of prehistoric humans cross paths.
A little over two years ago Woodell met Jim Johnston, brewer at Third Base, at the Northside Oktoberfest in Iowa City. They bonded over beer, bands and beyond. Johnston went on to see Obsidian Sword play across the state, where he approached Woodell with the idea to work together over their mutual appreciations: “At that point no one had collaborated a brew with a band here.”
Brewed under specific conditions — 666 pounds of grain, Conan yeast, mosaic hops and hours of down-tuned metal during fermentation — the first keg of the Obsidian Sword IPA was tapped at Trumpet Blossom last May. “It is fruity and a little spicy,” Woodell says, “and honestly a great, deliciously hoppy summer beer. I’d drink the shit out of it, even if it hadn’t been made with my band.”
The Obsidian Sword IPA isn’t the only doom-themed beer Johnston has concocted. His first venture into the depths of dark brews was an Imperial Stout. Upon searching for a name, Johnston looked to the music he frequently blasts on the job; Chicago’s Bongripper came to mind. The Imperial Stout was called “Endless Descent into Ruin,” after the three tracks, lasting over an hour, from that band’s 2014 album Miserable. It kicked off a new thematic approach for Johnston’s brews.
The behemoth Obsidian Sword brew shortly came later. Johnston and Woodell’s original plan last year was to host the release in Cedar Rapids. But logistical circumstances brought the show down to Iowa City. This time, after Johnston had begun the second batch of the Obsidian Sword IPA, the two wanted to host a proper release at Third Base Brewery. The owner, however, nixed the idea.
Johnston had the kegs slated to be tapped on 19th. But he and Woodell were then pressed for a venue. One night out on the town, Johnston was chatting with the bar manager at Otis’ Tailgators Sports Bar, and found that they were keen on the show. The dive often hosts metal shows on the weekend, often cover bands. But this brew release show will be uncharted grounds for the venue — and the city.
The Obsidian Sword IPA release party kicks off at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 19. The show is free, but 21+.